Molecules rev up for world’s tiniest race

Come October, six of the world’s most advanced vehicles will race for glory over a track made of gold. Only you won’t be able to see the groundbreaking event, because each competitor will be just nanometres in size.

This is the NanoCar Race, and it is being held at the materials lab CEMES at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Toulouse, France. The idea is to encourage the development of technology made of single atoms and molecules that could one day revolutionise areas such as electronics.

‘It’s not about molecular vehicles per se, it’s about single-molecule mechanics and the way you can miniaturise gears, motors and so on to the atomic scale,’ said molecular scientist Dr Christian Joachim of CEMES.

The nano cars consist of complex single molecules designed by teams of chemists from all over the world. Though invisible to the naked eye, these molecules appear on the atomic scale like a ragbag line-up from Wacky Races – some with wheels, some with wings and some with paddles for propulsion. […]

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